Graduated Prospect: Jackson LaCombe

Photo: Denver Gazette

By Thomas Harrington

The Anaheim Ducks selected defenseman Jackson LaCombe in the second round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, 39th overall. LaCombe made his NHL debut at the end of the 2022-2023 season, getting two games with the Ducks.

This past season, LaCombe played in 71 games with the Ducks and scored two goals and 17 points. Among NHL rookie defensemen, he finished seventh in assists and tied for sixth in points. LaCombe’s 71 games were second among Anaheim defensemen, behind only Cam Fowler’s 81. As a result, he also finished second in total ice time by an Anaheim defenseman. He averaged 19:23 of ice time per game, good for fourth on defense, and saw time on both the penalty kill and powerplay units. He recorded his first career assist in the second game of the season against Carolina and scored his first career goal against San Jose in January.

I had three expectations for LaCombe last season, and he passed with flying colors. After getting two NHL games at the end of the 2022-2023 season, I thought he’d probably split time between the NHL and AHL this past season. My first expectation was for him to get some NHL games, and 71 games is far above what I thought he’d do. Second, to get some special teams time with Anaheim. On the powerplay, he averaged 33 seconds of ice time per game, but it was on the penalty kill where he saw significant action. He averaged 2:27 of shorthanded ice time per game, good for sixth on the team, and was one of four defensemen to average over two minutes of shorthanded time per game.

My final expectation was when he was in San Diego, for LaCombe to be one of their better defensemen. Well, he played well enough to avoid playing in the AHL at all. He was assigned to the Gulls in January, but didn’t play any games for them and was almost immediately back in Anaheim.

Despite playing in 71 games this past season, LaCombe’s spot in Anaheim’s lineup is far from guaranteed. The Ducks also have Fowler, Pavel Mintyukov, and Olen Zellweger under contract for next season, and Urho Vaakanainen is a restricted free agent. Like LaCombe, all four of those players are left handed defensemen, so competition on the blue line should be high. LaCombe can play on the right side, but the Ducks have Radko Gudas under contract for next season, Gustav Lindstrom is a restricted free agent, and Tristan Luneau will be pushing for a roster spot as well. Also, the Ducks could sign or bring in another veteran defender. LaCombe had a solid rookie season, but he’ll need to be even better next year if he wants to play 70+ games again.

LaCombe is a restricted free agent this summer. He had a good but not great rookie season. I don’t think he did enough to earn a long-term deal from the Ducks, but I think a contract of about three years worth $1.5 to $2 million per season is about what he’ll sign for. Coming out of his entry-level deal, the Ducks signed Jamie Drysdale to a three-year deal worth $2.3 million a season, and he had more NHL experience at that point than LaCombe has right now.

The next graduated prospect will be defenseman Olen Zellweger.

Recent Articles:

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Prospect Profile: Cutter Gauthier

Prospect Profile: Jan Mysak

Prospect Profile: Tomas Suchanek

Graduated Prospect: Benoit-Olivier Groulx

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June 25th, 2024


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